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Bishop of Chicago: Immigration Raids ‘Immoral’

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Jim Wallis tells of a nationwide tour urging immigration reform that stopped in Chicago:
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

La Conscience (d'après Victor Hugo)

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Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops … used the occasion to call on the Obama administration to stop immigration raids and urged passage of comprehensive immigration reform […]
[T]he cardinal

“… sought to cast the issue in moral terms, calling it “a matter of conscience” and an important step to creating a more peaceful society. ‘We cannot strengthen families when people live in fear from day to day,’ […]

The continuing raids around the country [are] indeed a matter of conscience. We are taking parents from their children; we are separating families. This is not what in our tradition we should do. Protecting and supporting families and those relationships is crucial. The immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but it must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to “welcome the stranger.”

While I applaud President Obama for repeating his commitment to immigration reform last week, I join Cardinal George in also urging an immediate end to raids.

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It’s an excellent thought. Wrenching families apart is not only cruel, but unwise, even in practical terms. Hurt people hurt people. Strengthening families is, indeed, “an important step to creating a more peaceful society.”

If we’re kind – or even just smart – minimizing trauma will be part of immigration reform.


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Catholic bishops denounce immigration raids as “anti-family”

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From God’s Politics:

“The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society” […] “many families never recover, others never reunite.”

clipped from blog.beliefnet.com

Catholic Bishops Denounce Immigration Raids as Anti-Family (by Jennifer Svetlik)

Christians for Comprehensive Immigration ReformLast year I lived in a Catholic Worker house that offers hospitality to immigrants without first inquiring about their legal status. One day, a woman called the house on behalf of two young boys who had come home to an empty apartment; their parents had been taken in a raid, and the boys had no other relatives or friends in the country. They had been born in the U.S., but their parents were undocumented workers; the raid had traumatized and temporarily orphaned them. They were afraid to leave their home and had no idea how to locate their parents. […]
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement urging Homeland Security to discontinue worksite enforcement raids until […]
“humanitarian safeguards” are put into place. The statement says, “The humanitarian costs of these raids are immeasurable and unacceptable in a civilized society” and reminds us that “many families never recover, others never reunite.”
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Written by Monte

October 17, 2008 at 2:41 pm

Immigration raid in Postville: Justice denied

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Raid in Postville

Raid in Postville

For most of those three hours, this man was just weeping, and he was weeping for his family, worried about his children. He had children back in Guatemala, his mother, his wife and his sister all depending on him. He was the sole earner for the entire family.

So describes Erik Camayd, a professor of modern languages at Florida International University in Miami, who was one of the court-appointed interpreters flown in for the trial of immigrants arrested here in Iowa.  Here’s Amy Goodman’s set-up:

We turn now to Postville, Iowa, a small town of just over 2,000 people. On May 12th, the town became the site of the largest immigration raid in US history. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, arrested 389 workers at Agriprocessors, the largest kosher slaughterhouse and meatpacking plant in the country. Nearly 300 of the workers were charged with aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud. Many were sent to prison.

Camayd, who’s been participating in trials for twenty-five years, describes what he saw:

Then began the saddest procession I have ever witnessed, which the public would never see, because cameras were not allowed past the perimeter of the compound. Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the slaughterhouse workers were brought in for arraignment, sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before marching out again to be bused to different county jails, only to make room for the next row of 10. They appeared to be uniformly no more than 5 ft. tall, mostly illiterate Guatemalan peasants with Mayan last names, some in tears; others with faces of worry, fear, and embarrassment.

Since these people are so very poor, and since they are often the only source of income for an extended family, a jail sentence may mean their children go hungry.  Even if utterly innocent, the decision forced upon them is justice or hungry kids:

I saw immediately that this man had no choice but to plead guilty, if he wanted to return to his family as soon as possible … what made this case unique was that, for the first time, at least in this scale, they were not being deported but actually criminally prosecuted and sent to jail for five months or more. And the fact that they did not have a right to bail and that if they wanted to plead “not guilty” they would have had to wait possibly longer, up to six or eight months in jail without bail waiting for a trial, made this situation very, very difficult to really say that there was justice done in many of these cases. […]

[T]o place them in that position, basically holding their families’ well-being ransom over their heads in order to induce them to accept a plea agreement and plead guilty as the fastest way to get back home and then placing them in jail for that time under that kind of duress, I think that it’s very disturbing. It’s very disturbing. […]

Indeed, it is.

It may be legal, but it isn’t justice.


Read Erik Camayd’s personal account of the raid [Download pdf]


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Written by Monte

July 14, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Immigration, sacred conservatism, and jubilant self-strangulation

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Have you noticed that “trickle-down” trickles up? Decades removed from Reagan himself, the American rich are vastly richer, the rest of us, on average, are about the same or less well off. Zealots may say conservative economic moves just haven’t been radical enough. But shouldn’t good medicine help a bit, even in medium gulps?

There may be a link between the current immigration crisis and this legacy. Here are some excerpts from a thought-provoking essay well worth reading at DailyKos:

Currently undocumented immigrants flood over the borders daily risking their lives, and sometimes losing them, in order to find work and security in the United States….

Americans of all political stripes are concerned about this situation and there is great division on exactly how to solve the problem. Some have advocated a tightening of security and closing of the porous border as a solution. Others have promoted a method to regulate and legitimize the flow of the undocumented.

But there is one thing missing in both of these strategies. Neither contains any analysis of why this problem exists, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

November 11, 2007 at 6:22 pm

The immigration debate: Does Jesus matter?

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A pastor-friend emailed an article about the down-side of immigration.
Here’s an edited version of my response:

Dear _____ :

The most challenging thing for me about this debate is not what liberals or conservatives think, or whether immigration has been largely good or bad, or whether or not it’s in the economic interest of the American citizen. All those are important, I’m sure, but – since we are “citizens of another country” – I wonder if they are what matters most. I wonder if this question could be more important: What’s Jesus’ example?

For instance, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

August 17, 2007 at 1:14 pm